And sometimes you can be inspired to write a piece with an entirely different philosophy. “Life Sustains Life” is a haibun written after reading Mary Oliver’s “The Fish.”
Life Sustains Life
The first fish I ever caught hung by a hook in my hand flailing as my brother took a picture, his little sister, tears coursing down her cheeks, murmuring, “We can’t kill it.” “But it will make fine eating.”
We didn’t eat the drowning bass but released it in a deeper portion of a stream near our cabin, where it probably fed a raccoon or a bear, a creature whose need and desire were greater.
Years later, in the instant when I understood life leaving the squirrel’s eyes, glazed, death seeping through, I understood my path; for every decision, even eating demands thoughtfulness. Not a mystery, not a continuation of death sustaining life, but life sustaining life, not asceticism, but grace, joy, a religion of its own.
The drowning bass twists
Its scales sparkle emerald jewels.
Summer memory past.